First Sentence: I rang the bell at Number 7, Rue Jacob a third time.
What should have been a relaxing, romantic reunion between documentary journalist Maggie MacGowen and her fiancée Jean-Paul Bernard is anything but. Beginning with an urgent call from Jean-Paul for Maggie, using only cash, burner phones and staying off the internet, to join him in Venice where he’d come after nearly being murdered in Greece. Together, they flee across Italy and back to Paris trying to evade cyber-stalkers and the two men trying to kill them all the while not knowing why they are being targeted.
A cast of characters! How wonderful it is to have a book contain a cast of characters!
Who, at some point, hasn’t had an experience similar to Maggie being home from a trip, tired, hungry and desperate for a shower. Hornsby conveys the feeling perfectly. However, few of us are so lucky as to be in Paris at the time. It is clear this is not going to be a romantic look at Paris as the mystery and suspense kick off immediately.
Never read a book set in France when hungry. Even the most simple of meals sounds delectable—"French ham and cheese in a length of baguette with tomato and fresh basil”—and if one has been to France, one knows Hornsby has perfectly captured the French view of Americans—"With a broad American smile, the sort that makes the more restrained French think we might be half wits…” and yet are not put off by us. There are a number of French, and some Italian, phrases used, but even when they are not translated, their meaning is easy to understand through the context.
Maggie is the woman most of us would love to be. She’s smart, independent, capable, has travelled the world, and is respected in her profession. Her fiancé, Jean-Paul, is someone we are just getting to know. There is a very nice recap of how Maggie and Jean-Paul met.
That the story pays homage to Médicins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) is a bonus and sets the scene for danger and suspense which follows. She balances the tension nicely with scenes of Maggie and Jean-Paul alone, or with members of their families. Hornsby is such a visual writer it is, at times, as though one is watching a film.
There are a number of fascinating topics interwoven into the story, and the author has clearly done her research. The threat and capabilities of cyber-stalkers is eye-opening. There are a lot of coincidences in the story but, for the most part, they work. It is wonderfully convenient having two protagonists who are so well connected, but it does make sense considering the professions of characters, and it stays true to them.
There is humor sprinkled throughout. It’s subtle, but it’s there—“Is that blood, sir?” “It is,” he said. “Whether it’s mine or my colleague’s, I can’t say.” “Have you law enforcement or justice department credentials?” “I have a national health card and a membership card for an American store called COSTCO,” he said. “Which I would be happy to lend you if you should want to buy a new television or a gross of frozen buffalo wings.”
Although there are hints, the motive and villain are rather a surprise. It's so nice when that happens.
“Number 7, Rue Jacob” provides danger, food, a hidden door, a bit of romance, and a very satisfying ending.
NUMBER 7, RUE JACOB (Trad Mys-Maggie MacGowen-France-Contemp) – VG
Hornsby, Wendy – 11th in series
Perseverance Press – April 2018